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Evaluating the new winter shows


I'm probably not the wisest choice in the world to critique the new winter television schedule. Especially since the last show I really liked was "My Mother The Car." Still, new programs are popping up all over, including a sitcom created by comedienne Chelsea Handler. Which, if you know your Old Testament, is the final sign that heralds the end of the world.

In any case, here's my take on what is currently on the tube. Or (cue scary music) what's to come!

I have watched bits of Reality Television over the years. As far as their comic possibilities go?  I'm certain I'd laugh louder if the doctor just told me I had Lou Gehrig's Disease.  But the other night I checked out "Celebrity Wife Swap" in the hope of enjoying the premise, or at least catching a glimpse of some gratuitous female nudity.  Of course, no such thing occurred. Then again, there's no such thing as gratuitous female nudity, either.

On this past week's "Swap," Suzette Snider (wife of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider) traded places with Flava Flav's wife, Liz.  Yes, I know: the plot is remarkably similar to Shakespeare's "As You Like It." The conflicts arise from the fact that Suzette is very traditional and domestic and Liz hates cooking and orders pizza for dinner at the last minute. This is where the show breaks from Shakespeare.

All sorts of trouble ensues. Suzette tells Flav to get off his "fricking cell phone" or she's going to "throw it away." Liz has to give one of Dee's sons a Mohawk. A ghastly proposition for Liz. But it does seem to put cooking dinner into perspective. More problems arise. Everybody grows more understanding. Dee and Flava Flav sing "Ebony and Ivory" together. Or maybe that was just my allergy medication kicking in. 

Next up was, "Are You There, Chelsea?" I have to say that if this show was a court case and I was a judge assigned to it, I'd have to recuse myself.  

The premise of 'Chelsea' (played by Laura Prepon) is that of an outspoken barmaid and her 20-something workmates.  Amazingly enough, another plot straight out of Shakespeare. The chunk I saw was really depressing. In order to compete with those potty-mouth liberal shows on cable, 'Chelsea' has to say something smutty or suggestive every 33 seconds.  Apparently though, there are no similar requirements for humor.  This sitcom is completely laugh-free. And how long before Betty White makes a cameo, talking like a Wigga? Bet it's soon.

Starting on Monday, Fox has a new drama called "Alcatraz." In this show, Jorge Garcia plays Dr. Diego Soto, the world's foremost Alcatraz expert. That seems to be stretching things a bit.  Who is the world's second foremost Alcatraz expert?  Pee Wee Herman?

Last week I watched the premiere episode of "The Firm," with Josh Lucas taking the same role that Tom Cruise played in the film, except it's 10 years later.  Lucas's Mitch McDeere, fresh out of the witness protection program, joins a new law firm and barely notices the difference.  Of course, this Firm is as creepy and corrupt as the one he joined in 1993.  I mean, come on. What are the chances?

I've saved the best for last.  Coming in March on NBC is "Fashion Star," a clothes-designing series starring Elle Macpherson, John Varvatos and Nicole Richie who serve as mentors for 14 designer wannabes.  (So, that's how you do it!  I wrote to Elle Macpherson for 3 years straight, asking her to be my mentor. All it did was get my name on a list as a Person Of Interest.)  The show promises to be garish, sappy, snippy and sentimental, so you just know this thing is gonna go right through the roof.

montclairdad January 14, 2012 at 12:45 PM
This "review" made me laugh. Especially the picture of the circa 1990s television set. The state of network TV - and much of cable - is beyond dreadful. Thank God for HBO, SHO, AMC, FX, USA and TNT.
little e January 14, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Funny review! I am going to check out 'Alcatraz'. I am thrilled that 'Fringe' has returned. Other than that - the winter lineup is rough. I am so glad I dvr'd 'Game of Thrones' and the 'Homeland' series to get me through this difficult time.
profwilliams January 14, 2012 at 02:32 PM
That TV pix is the best. In truth, I just got rid of a 36" behemoth (curiously it sits, too big for me to get back down the stairs-- I may have to take it apart...). But it's wrong to compare the pay-stations with the broadcast networks. HBO has so far fewer hours to cover than, say ABC. IF HBO had the hours to fill, believe me, its offerings wouldn't be much better than NBC. Also, the broadcast networks have ratings to worry about. The pay-model isn't that dependent on ratings. In that they can nurture a show much longer than NBC (I really enjoyed "Prime Suspect" on NBC, but it got low ratings, so it was axed.) Curiously though, if you look at the "numbers" on HBO shows, they fall behind many reality shows, and would be canceled if on a broadcast network. But those Bravo shows are all winners!!! http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/12/13/sunday-cable-ratings-kourtney-kim-top-housewives-atlanta-boardwalk-empire-bag-of-bones-homeland-dexter-more/113485/
montclairdad January 14, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Does Bravo still show "West Wing" repeats? That's the only thing I've ever watched on that waste of bandwidth channel.
profwilliams January 14, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Easy, montclairdad. If you don't like something, that's fine, but making blind, categorical pronouncements is, well, dumb. Besides, anyone who would dare write that about the network that brings us "Project Runway," "Top Chef" and hell, I'll even throw in my girls from "Real Housewives of Atlanta," has no taste. Don't think so? Well Nene (below) might have some words for you.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx4HOXjhHfY
montclairdad January 14, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Sorry. :(


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